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Press Release

Rhode Island Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Wide-Ranging Fentanyl Trafficking Conspiracy That Spanned Across the Country

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant conspired to distribute counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl

BOSTON – A Rhode Island man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to his role in a fentanyl trafficking organization involved in the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl pills that spanned across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Texas and North and South Carolina. 

Erik Ventura, 35, pleaded guilty to a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Aug. 1, 2024. Ventura was arrested and charged in February 2022 and has remained in custody since.

In September 2019, an investigation began into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) based in Providence, Rhode Island and known to manufacture large quantities of fentanyl pills designed to appear like pharmaceutical grade oxycodone/Percocet pills and distribute them and other controlled substances throughout the United States. The investigation revealed that Ventura was a trusted member of the DTO and maintained one of the drug stash locations. Ventura transported cash and kilogram quantities of drugs to and from New York on behalf of the DTO, distributed thousands of fentanyl pills to wholesale customers in Massachusetts and was paid by the DTO for his work as a drug distributor. In February 2022, two industrial grade pill presses, approximately 20 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, pressed fentanyl pills and other items, including kilograms of pill binder used in the large-scale manufacturing of clandestinely pressed fentanyl pills, were seized. 

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Stephen Belleau, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and Harry T. Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Special assistance in the investigation was provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Providence Resident Agency; the Drug Enforcement Administration, Providence Field Office; Rhode Island State Police; and the Cranston, Warwick and West Warwick Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lindsey E. Weinstein and Kunal Pasricha of the Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.

This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law.    

Updated May 9, 2024

Drug Trafficking